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Thread: 1964 Ford Mustang

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    1964 Ford Mustang

    Memory Lane: 1964 Ford Mustang
    By Eric Peters
    for immediate release

    Ford General Manager Lee Iacocca probably didn't fully realize just what he was about to tap into with his new low-cost "personal car," the 1964 Mustang -- sort of like Jed Clampett, who inadvertently struck oil while he was out huntin' 'coon.

    In the early 1960s, there was no "youth market" (as such) for automobiles -- and the term, "pony car" had yet to be coined. But Iacocca -- who had risen from obscurity in the hinterlands of Pennsylvania to lead the Ford division in a span of just five years -- somehow tapped into the post-war collective unconscious and saw the need for a new kind of car for the emerging market of young and restless twentysomethings -- the group that would later be called Baby Boomers.

    The parameters for what became the first Mustang were simple and straightforward. It was to be inexpensive to manufacture, with a unitized body and mostly off-the-shelf suspension and chassis components. It would use existing and already proven drivetrains borrowed from other Ford models; there would be no risky gambits on elaborate new technologies the market might not be ready for -- as GM had bravely (but ultimately unsuccessfully) tried with the radical for the day, rear-engined, air-cooled Chevy Corvair

    The new car would be compact and light, seat four, be peppy and sporty -- and have a starting price under $2,500.

    Riding on a 108-inch wheelbase and modified Ford Falcon chassis, the first-year Mustang met Iaccoca's every specification. It was also an out-of-the-park home run -- with sales topping 670,000 units by the end of 1965.

    No car since then has equaled this feat.

    The initial run of Mustangs was offered in two basic bodystyles -- a notchback hardtop coupe and two-plus-two convertible -- with a fastback coupe joining the lineup later in the model year. A plethora of optional equipment and trim levels were offered from the get-go. This was deliberate strategy, intended to let buyers more or less custom-order their car. Mustangs could be fitted out as a luxury tourers, economical runners -- or tire-barking street machines. There was truly a Mustang for everyone -- from young single men to young at heart retirees who felt good cruising in their drop-top 'Stang.

    Like the VW Beetle, the car transcended class and economic strata; drivers who could afford far more expensive machinery bought them as eagerly as those who had to beg and borrow every dime for the down payment. The car's multiple personalities were also key to its long-term "legs." Because it appealed to a much broader audience than just young single guys -- as was the case with Pontiac's GTO -- the Mustang was able to weather many a storm and survive long after the GTO and its kind had been felled by declining interest in one-dimensional muscle cars.

    A look at the Mustang's roster of available powertrains helps give one an idea how different one Mustang might be from another under the skin. The standard coupe's engine was a boilerplate straight six very similar to the one used in the economy-oriented Falcon, initially displacing a modest 170 cubes -- and offering an equally modest 101 brake horsepower. This was for buyers who wanted a "just the basics" car. Next up was a small V-8, the "Challenger" 260 -- shared with the mid-sized Fairlane. This engine gave 164-hp and was a good compromise between economy and sportiness.

    As production ramped up, another engine became available -- the 289 CID "Hi-Po" V-8. This was the engine that began the frenzy and really put the "stang on the map as a perfomance car. The presence of the 289 V-8 was denoted by chrome call-outs on the front fenders and prominent dual exhaust tips out back. This engine featured a high-revving solid lifter camshaft, low-restriction dual exhaust and four-barrel carburetor. It provided the gumption to get the Mustang to 60 mph in about 7 seconds if you knew how to work the 4-speed -- and became the centerpiece of a new "GT " performance package that also included full instrumentation with tachometer, floor-mounted shifter (manual or three-speed Cruise-O-Matic auto), firm-ride suspension and special interior and exterior trim bits.

    That first 289 Hi-Po model was a big hit and became the leading edge of a "Total Performance" program from Ford that culminated, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in fearsome big block-equipped Mustangs like the twin-carbed 428 Cobra Jet and Boss 429 Mustangs that were just a few bends of the rule book away from all-out race cars.

    In 1965, sales once again topped half-a-million units -- big numbers -- although they didn't quite equal that spectacular first-year run of 680,989. Still, the Mustang was enormously successful -- the 1960s equivalent of what the first SUV would be to later generations. Within three model years, GM would have two "pony cars" of its own to answer the Mustang's challenge -- the Pontiac Firebird and Chevy Camaro. Chrysler jumped into the ring, too --with its E-Body Barracuda and Challenger coupes. Even frumpy AMC felt the need to get a Mustang fighter into circulation -- and ginned up the Javelin and AMX.

    By 1970, there were more than half-a-dozen Mustang imitators on the market -- each of them trying to horn in on the market the '64 Mustang singlehandedly identified -- and arguably tapped into better than any of them.

    By 1975, all of them except the Camaro and Firebird would be gone -- victims of changing times and changing tastes they faied to adapt to. But the Mustang continued to evolve and so remained popular -- even when Ford took a huge risk and downsized (and down-powered) the car in 1974, shifting the emphasis back toward the original 1964 concept of economy with touches of sportiness rather than all-out performance. This move -- mocked at the time by enthusiasts -- enabled the car to make it through the bleak desert of the 1970s and eventually stage a huge comeback in the early 1980s, when the resurrected "Boss 5.0" Mustang GT became (once again) one of the hottest sporty cars on the road.

    The Mustang continued to slug it out with Chevy's Camaro (and the Pontiac Firebird) through the 1990s -- gaining ground by sticking with the proven formula of offering buyers multiple Mustangs to suit any need -- from family-friendly runabout to head-banging quarter-miler, with a wealth of sub-models (Saleen, Cobra R, SVO). Camaro and Firebird, meanwhile, became ever-more single-minded -- with horsepower and performance becoming the major (some critics say only) selling points by the mid-1990s. Unfortunately (for GM), this cost the Chevy and Pontiac sales -- which dropped to an unsustainable low by the year 2000 that led to GM cancelling production of the Mustang's last Detroit-built competition after the '02 season.

    This left the Mustang as the sole survivor of the era of its conception -- and as popular as ever following a hugely successful "retro-restyle" for 2005 that gave the young buyers of the 21st century a chance to enjoy an automotive experience very similar to the one their Baby Boomer parents got to more than 40 years ago.

    In a car called Mustang.

    END

  2. #2
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    I worked a part time job for a while ...to pay for flying lessons.
    I had the opportunity to drive the boss's Mustang. It was a fastback model. It had a manualshift, which was only a 3 speed on the floor. I had driven bigger V8s including mustangs when working for a Ford dealer, but this little beast was certainly an eye catcher.

    Ford Falcons of 69-70 vintage were marketed in New Zealand as "Mustang Bred' ( the grill and tunnel rear window).
    Similarities to the 69 coupe
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    Memories like that are wonderful, eh?

    When I was in college I spent a summer working at a Chevy dealer as a detail/lot boy. Got to get myhands on brand-new Monte Carlo SS's, Z-28s and Corvettes.. lotsa furtive fun!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    How about a white ragtop?

    A man's greatest mistake is to think he is working for somebody else.

  5. #5
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    Lovely memories - I bought, new, a 66, and loved it - sometimes I wish I still had it. My only complaint about all the Mustang models is the "fastback" body style, which I detest.


  6. #6
    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    When I met my wife, she was driving a 1965 Mustang. Her Dad gave her a 1972 Pontiac LeMans as a wedding present. Shoulda kept the mustang as well!
    A man's greatest mistake is to think he is working for somebody else.

  7. #7
    mrblanche
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    Just a minor point: There were NO 1964 Mustangs. They came out late in the 1964 model year, and all were titled as 1965's.

  8. #8
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    This is a great article

    One of the great cars ever produced...

    I posted it on the main page:



    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...9&Itemid=10814

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    This is a great article

    One of the great cars ever produced...

    I posted it on the main page:



    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...9&Itemid=10814
    Thanks for the kind words!

    I'm a fan of the Mustang; in fact - and it pains me to admit this - the Ford small block V-8 is probably one of the best-sounding V-8s ever built. I'd love to have a '73 Fastback with the 351; I know most people don't like these - but I've always thought they were cool.

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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    Eric,

    I remember when I was 16 in the NoVa area the car most teenagers wanted was a 64 1/2 - 66 Mustang. The summer job I had when I was 16, I worked at a grocery store. There were at least 4 guys coworkers at the store who were between 16 - 18 years old that owned these Mustangs. I remember one guy was selling a '66 289 4bbl coupe (dual exhaust) for $800.00 - the body was in pretty good condition. A friend of mine bought a restored 1965 (225 horsepower) back in 1985 when I was 16, a red 4bbl (225 horsepower) fastback Mustang when I was 16 he only paid around $3000 for it. It was a very nice car, loaded with options including center console, it unfortunately met an untimely demise a few months after he bought it. The car would be worth a mint today.

    When I was a kid my parents owned gold 64 1/2 Mustang coupe (6 cylinder), it was a neat car. When my parents traded it in on a new car, I was very disappointed.

  11. #11
    mrblanche
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    Once again, there were no 64 and no 64 1/2 Mustangs. They were ALL titled as 1965's.

  12. #12
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    Quote Originally Posted by mrblanche
    Once again, there were no 64 and no 64 1/2 Mustangs. They were ALL titled as 1965's.
    You're being a little pedantic.

    Yes, you're technically right. But the common reference (and the way it's found in most history books) is '64 (or '64 1/2). Your point's taken - but why belabor it?

  13. #13
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    Eric,

    I remember when I was 16 in the NoVa area the car most teenagers wanted was a 64 1/2 - 66 Mustang. The summer job I had when I was 16, I worked at a grocery store. There were at least 4 guys coworkers at the store who were between 16 - 18 years old that owned these Mustangs. I remember one guy was selling a '66 289 4bbl coupe (dual exhaust) for $800.00 - the body was in pretty good condition. A friend of mine bought a restored 1965 (225 horsepower) back in 1985 when I was 16, a red 4bbl (225 horsepower) fastback Mustang when I was 16 he only paid around $3000 for it. It was a very nice car, loaded with options including center console, it unfortunately met an untimely demise a few months after he bought it. The car would be worth a mint today.

    When I was a kid my parents owned gold 64 1/2 Mustang coupe (6 cylinder), it was a neat car. When my parents traded it in on a new car, I was very disappointed.
    Similar memories here also...

    I graduated from HS in 1984, and there were many kids with old Mustangs - some nice, some pretty chewed on. I remember a few "rich kids" whose parents bought 'em new 5.0 GTs. Few of us at the time realized how lucky we were to have '60s and early '70s-era Mustangs within our grasp - the grasp of a teenager with a McDonald's income....!

  14. #14
    mrblanche
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Yes, you're technically right. But the common reference (and the way it's found in most history books) is '64 (or '64 1/2). Your point's taken - but why belabor it?
    Because it's a point that seems to have escaped some people, and it IS important. It's not pedantic to be correct. The Mustang was built, advertised, sold, and titled as a '65.

  15. #15
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    Quote Originally Posted by mrblanche
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Yes, you're technically right. But the common reference (and the way it's found in most history books) is '64 (or '64 1/2). Your point's taken - but why belabor it?
    Because it's a point that seems to have escaped some people, and it IS important. It's not pedantic to be correct. The Mustang was built, advertised, sold, and titled as a '65.
    Well, the same's also (technically) true of the "1970 1/2" Camaro/Firebird... and yet everyone just says "1970."

  16. #16
    mrblanche
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Well, the same's also (technically) true of the "1970 1/2" Camaro/Firebird... and yet everyone just says "1970."
    For exactly the same reason: It was built, advertised, and sold as a 1970.

    I had a 1975 1/2 Ford van, too. But the title still just said "1975."

    And my big truck was produced as a 2003, in spite of the fact that it was a new model, and less than 100 were made as 2003's. It's still a 2003, much to the shock of most mechanics and dealerships.

  17. #17
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    Quote Originally Posted by mrblanche
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Well, the same's also (technically) true of the "1970 1/2" Camaro/Firebird... and yet everyone just says "1970."
    For exactly the same reason: It was built, advertised, and sold as a 1970.

    I had a 1975 1/2 Ford van, too. But the title still just said "1975."

    And my big truck was produced as a 2003, in spite of the fact that it was a new model, and less than 100 were made as 2003's. It's still a 2003, much to the shock of most mechanics and dealerships.
    Well, the flip is that GM was still selling (old body) "1969" Camaros into 1970 - the first year for the new (second generation) body - at least, technically...

    We could go on and on... .

    Your HS teacher roots are showing!

  18. #18
    mrblanche
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    It was not uncommon for a car to be held over for a little into the new model year, then a new model brought out as the coming year.

    The most glaring example of all this is the 1980 Chevy Citation, which came out VERY early. Early 1979, in fact. That was so that GM could advertise it as "The First Car of the 80's!"

  19. #19
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    Quote Originally Posted by mrblanche
    It was not uncommon for a car to be held over for a little into the new model year, then a new model brought out as the coming year.

    The most glaring example of all this is the 1980 Chevy Citation, which came out VERY early. Early 1979, in fact. That was so that GM could advertise it as "The First Car of the 80's!"
    Yep - they do that today also. Heck, it's becoming silly. For example, we've been well into the "2008s" for the past six months now - even though there are still two months left in 2007. And within another two months, a few automakers will begin releasing their "2009s" (or at least, talking them up).


  20. #20
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    Re: 1964 Ford Mustang

    The best example I can think of this was the 1984 Corvette which was released the first week of March 1983.

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